Goo Goo Dolls set to bring the hits to Vetter Stone Amphitheater

InterviewSeptember 15, 2023The Free Press

Inside the inner circle of the Goo Goo Dolls, they’ve got a term for the hit songs everyone wants to hear.

“We sort of laugh and call them the Dirty Dozen like,” says Robby Takac, founding member and bass player/vocalist. “We know like there’s like a bunch of songs that people are bummed out if we don’t play. And we hear about it. We read what people say. We know that, if somebody is getting married to a song and they come to see you play, they want to hear that song. So we try to do that.”

So if you’re going to the Goo Goo Dolls show next week with hopes of hearing the hits — “Iris,” “Name,” “Slide,” “Black Balloon,” “Sympathy” — you’re in luck. The Goo Goo Dolls are well aware of just how much their music has meant to people over the years, and they’ve got no intention of ruining anyone’s night by leaving something out.

The band is set to perform Monday at the Vetter Stone Amphitheater with opening act Fitz and the Tantrums. Show time is 7:30 p.m. and, as of now, the weather looks like it’s going to cooperate.

When talking about playing “the hits,” Takac says he thinks it’s important to honor the connection music creates between creator and listener.

“It is so strong. It’s like a sensory thing, it’s visceral. It’s in your brain. You can’t think to make that happen — it just happens. It’s like a smell or a touch.”

Takac says he’s aware that some artist eschew “the hits” for deeper cuts in their repertoires; it’s probably less stimulating for a performer to play a song for the thousandth time.

Still, there are fans who come having never experienced a live version of a favorite song. And making their experience meaningful, he says, is more important than the annoyance of playing a song for the 1,001st time.

“Far be it for me to criticize Todd Rundgren, because I love Todd Rundgren so much, but there was a string where I went and saw him play two or three times where I barely knew any of the songs — and I’m a huge fan,” he says. “It was cool, but when I left, I didn’t feel satiated. You know what I mean? I’m still a fan. And I think it’s hard sometimes for bands to see their show from the seats. They usually see it from behind a microphone.”

The biggest hit for the Goo Goo Dolls came in late 1990s with the song “Iris.” Written by Goo Goo Dolls co-founder John Rzeznik, the song originally was composed for the 1998 film “City of Angels” starring Nicolas Cage and Meg Ryan.

When the studio version of the song was finished, Takac says, the filmmakers rejected it, opting instead to use an acoustic version of the song. But on the official soundtrack, they allowed the full studio version. They also allowed the Goo Goo Dolls to include the track on their soon-to-be released album, “Dizzy Up the Girl.”

While the Goo Goo Dolls were nationally known before “Iris,” that song catapulted the band to the stratosphere.

“It really felt like a shifting point for us, for sure.”

Not long after the song came out, Takac says he was watching the Stanley Cup finals. After the cup was clinched and the winning team was skating around the rink, taking turns hoisting the cup overhead, he heard a familiar song playing in the background.

“‘Iris’ was playing in the background,” he recalls. “And we sort of knew right then something big was going to happen.”

The song spent 18 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard charts and remained on the charts for nearly a year.

If You Go What: Goo Goo Dolls with Fitz & the Tantrums When: 7:30 p.m. Monday Where: Vetter Stone Amphitheater Tickets: Prices start at $45, visit